Everything You Need to Know About Preparing and Storing In Season Lamb’s Lettuce
Plus, 3 new recipes
The best way to shop? With the seasons! So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we’ll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To the market, we go!
When I hear lamb’s lettuce, I’m immediately and inevitably back in my childhood memories. I think of the decadent quince jelly dressing my mom used to marinate the lettuce leaves, of it's crunchy bite, and the love she made it with. The dressing comes together with a finely sliced shallot, dijon mustard, some water, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and 1 or 2 tablespoons of quince jelly (best-case homemade, of course). So, nothing too fussy. For me, that’s enough—I like my lamb’s lettuce simple. For those of you who favor a little extra on their plate, I can recommend a sprinkle of roasted walnuts to round everything out.
1. When and how to buy lamb’s lettuce
Lambs lettuce is mainly in season between October and March. It outpaces many other types of lettuce in terms of taste and nutrition with its particularly high content of iron, vitamin C, and folic acid. As with all ingredients that are eaten raw, it should be bought and eaten as fresh as possible. Because lamb's lettuce is so popular, you can find it at your local weekly market and almost every supermarket, although with differences in quality and taste (more on this below).
In the past, lamb's lettuce was considered a weed because once planted, it spreads quickly, but today it is cultivated as a natural crop. It is uncomplicated and can therefore also be sown very well in your garden at home. In order to thrive, it needs hardly any nutrients and is satisfied with what the vegetables or fruits have left in the soil before it.
If you set out to grow it yourself, bear the following in mind: The lettuce can be harvested after about two months (so if you want to harvest in October, you should plant it in August). In summer, you should make sure that the soil is moist before planting, and that you have plenty of space allocated for it to flourish, whether in your garden or a raised bed (a flower box will not do).
2. How to rinse and store fresh lamb’s lettuce
Lamb's lettuce is a bit sensitive and needs more attention than other types of lettuce. The individual leaves are held together by the sprout shoots, which is why there is always some sand from its cultivation. You can remove the sand by rinsing the leaves several times under cold water. It is best to fill the sink or a bowl with water and then carefully pull the lettuce through. Dab the lamb's lettuce dry (leave the salad spinner in the kitchen cupboard) and use it directly.
If you've bought a little extra (and have not used the leaves in your morning smoothie yet), make sure to store it so that it doesn't get soggy. Simply moisten a kitchen towel a little and wrap it gently inside. It should stay fresh and crisp in the fridge for a few days.
3. All the ways to enjoy and prepare lamb’s lettuce
Lamb's lettuce tastes even more intense and hearty the smaller and firmer the leaves are. I personally prefer the small and dark green florets to the larger and light green leaves. It has a very special taste even raw and without dressing, which makes it very adaptable. It combines excellently with bacon and pomegranate seeds or served with oranges and goat cheese or other fruits, such as mango and apple slices or strawberries. In general, fruity ingredients—similar to the quince jelly in my mom's dressing— work especially well with the slightly nutty taste of the leaves. Raspberry or pomegranate vinegar also falls into this category (and would go perfectly with balsamic mushrooms).
4. What to make next
We'll be featuring lamb’s lettuce recipes all week long on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what’s new, then try one for yourself! But in case you can’t wait much longer, go on and try my suggestion for the quince jelly dressing—or one of the great recipes below:
What's your favorite way to enjoy lamb’s lettuce? We'd love some more inspiration! Let us know in the comments below.
Published on January 19, 2020